Prostate Cancer Treatments – Understand Your Options

There are a number of prostate cancer treatments to consider. Each type brings different benefits and risks so it’s important to be informed and make a decision based on what’s best for you. The most significant disadvantages revolve around potential side effects of the chosen option. Talk to your doctor about advice on treatments and lifestyle changes.

  Active Surveillance Surgery External Beam Radiation
Description Status of cancer is carefully monitored through regular check-ups and ongoing testing, typically including:

  • PSA every 3-6 months
  • A repeat biopsy within 12-24 months, then periodically as determined by your doctor
  • Digital rectal exam (DRE) visits at 6 or 12 months
  • MRI as determined by your doctor
Done under anesthesia, surgical removal of the prostate through a lower abdominal incision or if done laproscopically or robotically through several small incisions in your lower abdomen. The surgeon may also remove lymph nodes around the area of your prostate. A machine focuses radation at the prostate to kill cancer cells.


Treatment generally involves short 15-minute session five days a week, usually for 6-9 weeks.
Recovery Minimal — following biopsy. 2-4 days in hospital, followed by a month of recovery at home. Catheter in place for 1-3 weeks after surgery. Up to 2 months fatigue after full course of treatment. Possible skin reaction in radiated areas.
Pain mild
Mild
(following biopsy)

Moderate

Mild to Moderate
(last 2-3 weeks of therapy)
Long-term Urinary Incontinence none
None

Moderate
42%

Mild
17%
Long-term Erectile Dysfunction none
None

Severe
94%

Severe
74%
Bowel Problems none
None

None to Mild

Moderate
66%
Temporary Fatigue and Loss of Energy none
None

Mild

Moderate
 

By choosing active surveillance, you are delaying or avoiding altogether the immediate and life-changing side effects of surgery, radiation therapy or other treatments.

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* JCO 2009, ; 27: 3916-3922